This Week in Education Organizing - November 17, 2017

ART BUILD in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers hosted an “Art Build” for public education earlier this month.  What’s an “Art Build?” It’s hundreds of parents, students, community allies and educators gathering together for 3 days to create posters and banners to be used in the fight for the schools all children deserve.  Hundreds of signs were mass-produced with slogans like: "Educators for Black Lives,” "Educators for Native Lives," "Teachers, We Work for the People" and "Public Schools, the Heart of our Community." This amazing event helped to elevate and bring together common issues surrounding racial and education justice in Minneapolis and St. Paul, while bringing together people from all communities to build art with a purpose. 

Designs for the pieces were contributed by students, parents and local artists as well as the Just Seeds Art Collective. Some of the districts’ art teachers had their students design images as an assignment.  Following the lead of a previous Art Build held in Milwaukee, a coordinating committee of teachers and local artists helped plan the event and selected the images to use during the event. The Art Build was advertised through social media, and schools took shifts to bring students in to help with the work.   Check out this video/slide-show of the event! And if you’re wondering what happened to the banners and posters developed at the Art Build, check out the press in the next story!! 

St. Paul Federation of Teachers Target the Super Bowl Committee with Their Demand for Education Investment

Carrying the signs and banners created by the “Art Build,” members of the SPFT, Movement for Black Lives, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center for Workers United in Struggle and other groups held a press conference outside a meeting of the Host Committee for Super Bowl LII, which will be held in Minneapolis next February. The Host Committee includes some of the area’s corporate giants, including the CEO of USBank, a St. Paul-based megabank that avoided paying $10 million in taxes to the state last year because of sweetheart deals and tax cuts.

The groups called on USBank and other corporations that have invested millions to bring the Super Bowl to Minneapolis, to also invest in public schools and struggling communities. “There is no shortage of wealth in Minnesota and in St. Paul,” said Nick Faber, president of the SPFT. “We just choose to give that money to millionaires and corporations instead of to public schools.”

Hani Ali, an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives in Minneapolis said, “racial bias and corporate power should not hinder the success of our students, but that is exactly what is happening to students of color all over the Twin Cities.” 

DeVos / ED Consider Rescinding Obama Guidance on School Discipline

At a meeting held at the Department of Education (ED) in Washington today, conservative groups, parents and some teachers asked the Department to rescind federal guidance issued under the Obama administration, ensuring that school districts aren’t discriminating against students through their discipline policies and practice. 

Organizations that are fighting against the School-to-Prison Pipeline and working to support the implementation of restorative practices in public schools were not included in the meeting.  Plans are underway to respond, and to call on the ED to keep the guidance in place.

U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, the ranking member on the House education committee said, "Any effort to address school discipline must also consider the deeply rooted inequities, including documented and pervasive racial bias, in school discipline practices that disproportionately harm students of color and contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. Secretary DeVos has promised to protect the civil rights of all students. I urge her to make good on that promise by maintaining the Department's evidence-based guidance on school discipline and civil rights enforcement." 

DeVos Watch:  AROS “Greeting” DeVos in Nashville

Tennessee Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is joining with other Tennessee alliance members and pro-public education supporters on Thursday, November 30th at 5:30 pm, in a rally assembling at the Music City Walk of Fame Park near the Omni Hotel where DeVos will be speaking at the National Summit on Education Reform. Hosted by the Metro Nashville Education Association, parents, teachers, and community members will be sending a clear message, "Don't DeVostate our public schools!" 


#SRCYaLater Rally Celebrates Return to Local Control in Philadelphia

As anticipated, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted last night to dissolve, sending the district back to local control as of June 2018.  The vote was 3-1 with one abstention. The long process of transition now begins. According to the transition plan, Philadelphia’s Mayor will appoint members of the school board, with those appointments being approved by the City Council. 

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, The Our City, Our Schools Coalition and other groups held a spirited rally outside the SRC building before heading in to watch the historic vote. 

California NAACP Calls for Sustainable Community Schools

The California/Hawaii chapter of the NAACP has passed a resolution in support of sustainable community schools as a proactive alternative to privatization. TheResolution notes that community schools should emphasize high-quality teaching, a focus on critical thinking rather than high-stakes testing, culturally relevant curriculum, wrap-around supports and positive discipline practices, among other components.  If implemented properly and scaled up, the resolution states, “Community Schools are a viable long-term strategy to expand educational opportunities and promote neighborhood well-being.


DeVos Watch:  Thursday, November 30th at 5:30 pm: a rally assembling at Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame Park near the Omni Hotel where Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be speaking at the National Summit on Education Reform. Hosted by Tennessee AROS and the Metro Nashville Education Association, parents, teachers, and community members will be sending a clear message, "Don't DeVostate our public schools!"

Backpack Full of Cash Screenings:

Thursday, November 30th at 6:30pm at the Little Theater in Rochester, NY.

Saturday, December 9th at 9:00 (continental breakfast at 8:30) at Purpose of Life Ministries, 3705 Kessler Blvd North Drive in Indianapolis

Follow the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools on Facebook and Twitter and learn more at

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
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